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Dig These Discs :: Kelis, Neon Trees, Alfie Boe, Strange Talk, DCONSTRUCTED

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday May 14, 2014

Neon Trees frontman and former Mormon Tyler Glenn comes out, and writes his third studio album all about it. Showing that she's not a girl to be boxed up, Kelis delves into R&B retro with her tasty new album, "Food." Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the down-under alt-pop quartet Strange Talk releases their DIY debut, "Cast Away." Platinum-selling and Tony-Award winning British singer Alfie Boe drop his new album, "Trust." And the Disney classics your kids love get the DJ makeover in "DCONSTRUCTED."

"Pop Psychology" (Neon Trees)

Time to give thanks to the Mormons of Provo, Utah, for the unlikely glam rock/pop outfit Neon Trees and their third studio album, "Pop Psychology."

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine, lead singer Tyler Glenn came out as gay, and the new album reportedly deals with his life as a closeted gay man. In the video for their single, "First Things First," Glenn travels back through his early years, from the bad Mohawk of his 20s to the band’s first big tour with the Killers. "You are never gonna get everything you want in this world, first things first, get what you deserve," he sings.

The album continues with a collection of upbeat, catchy tunes, from their first track, "Love in the 21st Century," to the self-motivational "First Things First." In between are a passel of tunes about modern love, from "Text Me in the Morning" to the disco-influenced "Sleeping With a Friend."

His ’80s clap-track "Teenager in Love" is simple and fun, with lyrics, "I’ll be your angel, I’ll be your best friend/ take me to New York, take me to heaven." Ditto for the catchy "I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)." Glenn shows off his vocal skills in the melancholy "Voices in the Halls" and teams up with drummer Elaine Bradley for the lovely "Unavoidable." He sings about his struggle with his sexuality in "Living in Another World," with the lyrics, "I guess I’ve always been this way, it’s been hard for me to say."

The band doesn’t take as many risks with "Pop Psychology" as they did with previous albums, but given the personal subject matter, that’s understandable. And in the end, they serve up a strong collection of 10 rocking tunes, some of which may find their way to the radio.

Neon Trees kicks off a U.S. tour with a show in Nashville on May 12. Catch them when they roll through your town.
(Island Records)

"Food" (Kelis)

Hold the "Milkshake"; Kelis is back with real "Food," a trek through culinary goodness that will leave you hungry for more! This R&B star goes retro with her new collection of 13 tasty hits, complete with a brass section and deep soul.

This is the sixth studio album for Kelis, and a big departure from her 2010 dance album, "Flesh Tone." Although she’s been on the scene since 1999, Kelis is an artist who is willing to experiment, and won’t be pigeonholed. She’s only 34 years old, newly divorced from Nas and ready to stand on her own two feet. She goes acoustic in her cover of Labi Siffre’s "Bless the Telephone," about sitting around writing songs. Thank indie rocker Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, and his 13-piece band. The horn section elevates "Hooch" into one of the best cuts on the album.

Kelis’ husky voice adds grit to "Breakfast," a catchy tune with the chorus, "This is the real thing, the real thing for us." She sizzles in the "independent woman" song "Floyd," singing, "I know I don’t look it, but I can cook." Boy, can she ever! She harmonizes beautifully in "Biscuits ’n’ Gravy" and "Runner," and heats things up with her crew in "Cobbler."

"Baby don’t go! We got so much history, I hurt you, you hurt me," she sings in "Rumble," with the unconvincing chorus, "I’m so glad you gave back my keys." The funky Afrobeat toe-tapper "Jerk Ribs" was the first single for the album, and fittingly, Kelis served free jerk ribs with BBQ sauce from her food truck at the SXSW festival in March. And if you love her music, check out her new Cooking Channel show, Saucy and Sweet. Now that’s tasty!

(Ninja Tune Records)

"DCONSTRUCTED" (Various Artists)

If you’re one of those gays with kids (or one of those gays who goes gaga for Goofy) check out Walt Disney Records new album "DCONSTRUCTED," a collection of classic and current music from the longstanding Disney catalog remixed by today’s hottest DJs/producers from across the globe.

The 14-track collection features reworks of material from the multiple Academy Award-winning films "The Lion King" and "Frozen," as well as two of Daft Punk’s contributions to "TRON: Legacy." Daft Punk’s abbreviated "Derezzed" -- one of the best tracks in the mix -- is freshened up with vocals courtesy of Negin and extended with Avicii’s twinkling rhythms. And the previously unreleased Japanese Popstars Remix of Daft Punk’s "Fall" stretches out that track’s inquisitive beats with layers of echo.

Lending their formidable skills to the mix are EDM superstars Avicii, Armin Van Buuren and Kaskade, reworking material from the original Mickey Mouse club days right up to The Muppets theme song (wacky... wakka-wakka). It kicks off with the Mat Zo Remix of "Circle of Life" from "The Lion King." Idina Menzel’s "Let It Go" from the new film "Frozen" gets the Van Buuren trance treatment, and "Monsters University" tune "Roar" is unrecognizable as something Disney, with its’ Yogi remix. Said Van Buuren, "I feel incredibly honored to have remixed an Oscar-winning song -- though I didn’t know that yet when I started."

Get ready to "Partysaurus Rex" with BT & Au5’s "Toy Story" "Partysaurus Overflow," and enjoy "The Incredibles" winning remix of "Reconstruction" with thanks to Michael Giacchino and UNKLE. Kaskade’s crafted approach to the sentimental "Dumbo" song "Baby Mine" maintains the originals’ emotions, bringing them to the present time with softly rounded beats and gently building house rhythms.

The album even tackles the enduring theme from the Disneyland Park’s Main Street Electrical Parade. This is certainly the soundtrack to spin during Gay Days Disney events, but the relentlessly pounding club music could make the little ones cry.

(Walt Disney Records)

"Cast Away" (Strange Talk)

Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, the down-under alt-pop quartet Strange Talk releases their DIY debut, "Cast Away."

Strange Talk is comprised of Stephen Docker (vocals, keys), Gerard Sidhu (bass, keys), Travis Constable (drums) and Gillan Gregory (guitar, keys). With the help of Tony Hoffer, the crew mixes electronic anthems like their debut single, "Young Hearts," the video for which just dropped on VEVO on April 21. The song shot to #1 on Hype Machine, spawning countless remixes.

Rolling Stone magazine says the band is "equal parts Cut Copy and Daft Punk, with pinches of ’80s pop." The album blends synth beats with breathy vocals and tinny drums, seen in cuts like "Morning Sun" and "Climbing Walls." Their title song is an upbeat dance number, with the chorus, "Set fire to the night, leave it all behind." "Falling in Love" is a spacey, enjoyable voyage, and "Eskimo Boy" has an addictive rhythm and teasing vocals.

"Another Day" is an electronica-laden love song, with Docker singing, "We’ll find a way to make it right, we’ll find a way to hold on tight, just for another day." They swing in "Is It Real," and "Wanted (Dead or Alive)."

These newcomers have already made a splash at SXSW, Parklife, Stereosonic, and other musical festivals. They are now touring the U.S. with sold-out dates in LA on May 14, heading through San Fran, Portland and Seattle before hitting Chicago, Toronto and finally, New York.

(Wind-Up Records)

"Trust" (Alfie Boe)

When platinum-selling and Tony-Award winning British singer Alfie Boe drops his new album, "Trust," in the U.S. this month, he does so on the heels of critical acclaim in the U.K. He released it there last November, and it hit the chart at No. 8, selling three million copies.

Boe is a master of opera and musicals, which makes his new album all the more interesting. In "Trust" he tackles a soulful set of country and blues, folk and gospel, standards and originals. He does well with the title song, a soulful Chris Stapleton/Steve McEwan tune. And he tackles slow gospel tunes well, including "God Give Me Strength" by Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach.

But it’s difficult to hide his light under a bushel; for example, Boe’s cover of "Jimmy Cliff’s "Many Rivers to Cross" sounds more opera than gospel or country. And his cover of Carole King’s "You’ve Got a Friend" seems more formal than it was perhaps intended to. He does a lot better with the metered French standard "If You Go Away" by Jacques Brel & Rod McKuen. Shawn Colvin joins Boe on Richard Thompson’s "The Dimming of the Day."

The best of the bunch is his arrangement with Larry Klein of the sizzling track, "Rosie." He puts his own spin on such beloved tunes as Carole King’s "You’ve Got A Friend," "Bob Dylan’s "Forever Young," and Jimmy Cliff’s "Many Rivers To Cross," as well as classics like "Georgia On My Mind," a superb version of "Glory, Glory Hallelujah" and two versions of "Danny Boy," one of which he’ll sing on an episode of PBS show "Mr. Selfridge" this May.

Boe can often be found on PBS, as Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables," or via his two specials, "Alfie Live" and "Storyteller: Live at the Royal Albert Hall." His songs are on "Downton Abbey." Known as "opera’s working-class hero" for working his way from a factory car mechanic to a platinum-selling artist, Boe is one of the U.K.’s most technically gifted talents. Boe has performed at the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. It’s only fitting that he tackle this lineup of American classics.

(Strange Cargo/Manhattan Records)

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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